The San Jose woman responsible for last year’s dramatic baby abduction with the help of a man she was dating to defraud another man she was involved with has just been sentenced to 13 years and four months.
Yesenia Ramirez, 44, spoke at length Monday morning at her sentencing hearing, and it looks like her apology and extended confession did little to sway the judge for leniency — she faced up to 14 years and received just over 13 years. Ramirez has pleaded no contest to allegations related to orchestrating the kidnapping of Baby Brandon Cuellar, which took place in April 2022 and immediately made national headlines.
Part of what brought the case such quick attention, aside from the fact that broad daylight infant abductions are rare, was surveillance footage of her accomplice, 28-year-old José Roman Portillo, carrying a baby out of his grandmother’s car. from which it was stolen.
Baby Brandon was eventually found after a 20-hour hunt, and Ramirez and Portillo were immediately arrested.
As we learned last summer, Ramirez has been caught up in something of a love triangle, and there may have been other men involved, in addition to the estranged husband. And to trap another boyfriend, Francisco Marquez, she used Portillo to help pull off a kidnapping after she lied to Marquez for months about being pregnant with his child. The child belonged to a woman Ramirez had befriended at a local church.
KRON4 has fragments of Ramirez’s statement in court today, which lasted about 40 minutes.
“My name is Yesenia Guadalupe Ramirez,” she began. “I am a mother, grandmother, daughter and sister. But I am here before you and others as a defendant in this criminal case of kidnapping. From the bottom of my heart, I am very sorry. Your Honor, this statement is obvious. This is addressed to your honor, Judge. But this also the most important opportunity I have to talk to the people I have victimized.Crimes that I personally committed, crimes for which I take responsibility.Crimes that led to injury, crimes that traumatized many not just the victims, I take responsibility for causing this injury.”
The judge ended up interrupting Ramirez’s statement, telling her, “We’re MUCH past the apology,” and told her lawyer shortly before lunchtime, “She was talking for what, 40 minutes?
BREAKING: Yesenia Ramirez (right) was sentenced to 13 years and 4 months in prison for kidnapping Baby Brandon in San Jose. Ramirez was the mastermind behind the plot.
José Portillo (left) has yet to be sentenced. He faces a maximum of 5 years in prison. @kron4news pic.twitter.com/i1ltJYkL9y
— Amy Larson (@AmyLarson25) March 20, 2023
That sentencing was originally set for January, but it was delayed after prosecutors began bringing evidence over the phone from prison that Ramirez continued to plead not guilty and told a probation officer that her ex-husband “put a gun to her head” and made her do it.
According to NBC Bay Area, Ramirez’s public defender Cody Salphen spoke in court about Ramirez’s traumatic upbringing in El Salvador and his stepfather’s abuse.
“The California legislature has recognized that people often commit crimes because they themselves have been victims of crime,” Salphen said, according to NBC. “It’s really a vicious circle, which is the reality of our criminal justice system.”
Portillo was sentenced to five years in a plea case and was told by the judge that while he may have followed Ramirez’s instructions and direction in the conspiracy, he nevertheless participated in several kidnapping attempts before the last, successful one, and that he was the one who physically took the baby out of his grandmother’s care.
“I made bad decisions that hurt the people around me,” Portillo said in his own statement. “I also hurt myself by making this mistake. I am very sorry for all the damage that I caused to the parents and family of the child. I apologize to the court and the child’s parents.”
Previously: Stupid San Jose kidnapping trial delayed as suspect now claims her ex-husband made her do it